Diet beverages may increase heart disease risk by 20%, study finds.

A new study found that those who drink two liters or more of artificially sweetened beverages each week are 20% more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. Like consuming one medium-sized diet Pepsi daily.

A-fib is an irregular heartbeat that many individuals describe as a “quiver,” “flutter” or “flip-flop” of the heart in the chest.

The study found that drinking four ounces of pure, unsweetened liquids like orange or vegetable juice reduced atrial fibrillation risk by 8%. Drinking a similar number of added-sugar beverages increased risk by 10%.

Penny Kris-Etherton, emeritus nutritional sciences professor at Pennsylvania State University, said this is the first study to link no- and low-calorie sweeteners and sugary drinks to atrial fibrillation. She skipped the new study.

Kris-Etherton, an American Heart Association nutrition committee member, said further research is needed to confirm these findings and understand how these beverages affect heart disease and other illnesses."Water is best, and this study suggests limiting or avoiding no- and low-calorie sweetened beverages,"

The biggest cause of stroke in the US is atrial fibrillation. In addition, A-fib-related strokes are “more severe than strokes with other underlying causes,” according to the CDC.

Atria fibrillation causes clots, cardiac failure, and "increase the risk for heart attack, dementia, kidney disease." Dr. Gregory Marcus, UCSF School of Medicine professor of medicine and UCSF Health associate chief of cardiology for research, thinks those worries are long-term.

Atrial fibrillation affects almost 40 million people globally, 6 million of them in the US, according to the Heart Rhythm Society, which includes over 7,000 heart rhythm disorder specialists from 90 countries.

Many have chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and exhaustion. A-fib can be silent and deadly for some. After detection, drugs, lifestyle adjustments, and heart rhythm surgery can reduce or restore the heart's normal rhythm.

According to Wang, these findings suggest reducing or eliminating artificially sweetened and sugar-laden beverages. Do not assume low-sugar and low-calorie artificially sweetened beverages are healthful; they may cause health hazards.

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